Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Here we come 2014!

Our family is going through a lot of changes this year. I am very excited about it, looking forward to it. I feel like the little irritating piece of sand inside a clam that gets worked and worked until it becomes a pearl. I am so grateful for my beautiful family, Michael, Evan and Cora Grace. If I had my way, there would be more so we'll see. ;) 
We had a good 2013. Really good. Our favorite thing was getting to go home to California on a driving trip that I never blogged or posted pictures for (yet?). We loaded up our trusty CRV and took a week to stop in St. Louis, the drive through South Dakota was my FAVORITE, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Rexburg, Idaho for Cora Grace and my baby brother Isaac to finally meet (he was on his mission when she was born then went straight to school), Salt Lake City Utah to visit with and stay with amazing friends, a last minute stop in Las Vegas and got to see another great friend then California finally. It was great traveling with the kids, once we got to CA, we were there for a week, helping my parents pack up their house of 33 years to move. It was very rewarding to help alongside my brother Jesse. The kids cooperated perfectly at my parents house and loved jumping on their trampoline till their hearts content. Let's not forget all the cousins we got to visit with! Aunts and Uncles were everywhere and Cora even finally got to see the Ocean (she preferred the sand with cousin Adelle). Evan and Stewart made up for her by playing in the freezing ocean enough for all of us. :) On our way back to Tennessee we stopped at the Grand Canyon and it was so beautiful. I look forward to going back and taking more time there. We also got to go to Gatlinburg with the kids in December. I hope we take other trips this year, even for a couple days. Even more fun, we started camping this fall with the kids. We kinda got addicted going probably 4 times in a two month period? The kids LOVED sleeping in a tent, with Smokey, with mommy and daddy, Evan got to pee on trees! lol. We just had a great time being together, we just focused on enjoying each other and the moment. It payed off and we are going to focus in 2014 on doing more things like this as a family. Two of our camping trips took us down the road to Cedars of Lebanon State Park. The first time we went, I saw their lodge that they use for group parties, events and weddings. As soon as I saw these doors I knew we needed to take our Holiday pictures there, so we got dressed up on a cold cold day, set up the tripod and timer. All we did was press the button for the family shots! I took the rest and just love my hobby of photography, especially when we capture something like this. Here you go... Happy 2014: a year of JOY, positive changes- inside and out for all of us. Love to all.
These trouble makers love each other so much AND argue with each other so much! ha ha ha. Cora tattles with a smirk on her face, Evan is genuinely concerned about what trouble Cora get into. ha! Then they play together again like nothing happened.

Our Christmas/New Years Card this year.. in front of 'the doors'. Everyone loves my new boots. Me too! I got them through Zulilly! I will email you an invite if you ask and want to find unique finds. xo

I just love this slightly different shot with Cora hugging me that I couldn't leave it out. <3

Our babies, best friends. Evan is 5 now, looking forward to Kindergarten in the Fall. More like OBSESSED with Kindergarten in the Fall. Every night he asks if he can go to Kindergarten yet. Its so sad and sweet at the same time. Cora Grace will be 4 in JUNE! I can't even say 3 1/2 because she's such a big girl, acting 4. Both of these crazies have grown 2 inches since the summer. That is amazing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Summer family Photo shoot

My friend Shannon Hairr took our pictures this summer at Cannonsburg Village. It was a hot humid southern morning that we all somehow survived. She did a great job capturing our family. This top one is a perfect depiction of Cora's current sassy and mischievous personality and Evan's fun loving, caring brother and playfulness.

Evan was sooOO done with the heat and photos by this point... until he got to the water....


Kermit the Frog and Little Miss Piggy

My beautiful babies let me dress them up again this year! Whoo Hoo! victory! I just had to find a duo that I had green for my green obsessed Evan. :). Now I just didn't know if my opinionated 3 year old would put a pig nose on and be Miss Piggy. ha ha ha. I ordered the sweat suit through my beloved Amazon, in Kelly Green from two different sites (so the green doesn't exactly match but it's all good) then I already had both white, black and light green felt for his accents. I literally only tacked the eyes, collar, hands and feet to the sweats so we can use the sweats regularly after. Also Mike cut the pupils while I tacked just 15 or so minutes before we left the house for the Fall Festival we went to. Cora's ensemble was more fun to shop for on the same site. I didn't look for "Miss Piggy" stuff. That would be waaay too easy. ha ha ha. Instead I had in my mind what I wanted; a glamorous dress that could be reused as C.G.'s first dress up dress! I ordered her a 'flapper' style dress, white boa and a pink pig nose/tail/ears set that I crossed my fingers would all fit. The rest was already owned; flashy pink boots, pink tights, long sleeved white shirt (for under modesty and warmth), necklaces and a  play purse to carry her candy in. :)
Of course they were a hit where ever they went and the costume contest you see in the last picture was... a joke. There was an adorable baby/mouse in a mouse trap and a "mutt kutts" (dumb and dumber) wagon that was priceless and one of them would have won if they actually awarded anything. Still, our kids would have won best duo! :) We love our babies. <3

Cora Grace was the best sport for wearing the pig nose! The plastic band that wrapped over her ear caused almost a blister;/. The sweet thing never complained, she LOVED being a piggy!! She even shook her tail whenever asked (I cut little slits in the back seem of her dress to accompany a Velcro tail made, I assume to go on a belt loop. It worked perfectly!) and also performed karate chops to "Kermit" on demand. ;) ha ha ha.

Monday, October 28, 2013

thoughts thoughts and more life things

I haven't blogged in so long I almost couldn't log in! Sad. I miss sharing my thoughts and do wonder if anyone really wants to read them. Ha!
I have found that at 39 years old, married and two young "babies" it is still possible to be completely insecure, idiodic, insane and also sane, confident, and smarter than I've ever been. What's with that!? I am so proud of many things I do or say then in the same breath I can embarrass myself. Just when I feel on the right track I get a giant slice of humble pie. :(.... I have many hopes and dreams for my/our future. I dream about more babies all the time and wish we could afford it or even have a satisfying conversation about it. I want to be able to get into a home with more space!!! I would love to stay home with the kids full time and learn to be the best homemaker Mike's ever dreamed of. I want to invent a teleporter so I can see my siblings, their families and my parents anytime I want. I feel alone so much. We had such a great trip this spring/summer driving to California etc and on our two overnight camping trips recently, it's all I want to do now... Everyday. Maybe we could sell our material belongings, buy an R.V. and explore America with our kids for a year? Dreams.
Evan had a tough go in the end at daycare earlier this year. He was unjustly judged and treated emotionally terribly. He learned a lot of bad habits and for me I felt guilt ridden everyday I had to leave him there to go to work. (Only two days a week but two days too many). He hit, bit, ran out of his classroom, yelled at teachers and defied discipline. He was kicked out after being there a year and a half with no problems then written up 3 times in one month. We had some angelic friends help watch him in a pinch till we felt comfortable somewhere else while Cora Grace continued at the daycare. After a few weeks we found a place that assured me they would give it a try and at my request, explained a plan of action should Evan do this behavior again. Essentially we would have a big meeting with teacher, child, parents and director of the school. I dropped Evan and Cora off at 930am, at 230pm Mike called to say Evan had been kicked out. :(. We were devastated (and angry). We didn't know what to do. We knew he was not doing this at home and had to endure the "suggestions" to have him tested for Autism or ADD. We took him to be assessed in our county school system and he "passed" everything they look for flags in. Next we took him to a therapist of which again he "passed" but it was obvious he had some behavior issues with authority figures. It was that time we were headed out of town for two weeks and when we got back we were blessed with a summer babysitter Alexis. She was a welcomed break from formal childcare and when her college semester started looming for Fall we were nervous about who would watch our kids. We couldn't go back to daycare and we needed to consider that Evan may benefit from enrolling in pre-K. In my efforts to do just that-hastily, angel's shone down from heaven and gave is Ms. Kristen. Sigh... She is not conventional and she's perfect for this momma. She feeds the kids all organically/grass fed beef, etc. She muscle tests the kids each day they are with her to she what important neutriants they are lacking and supplements them with essential oils or diet to level out their imbalance. My kids loooove going there and love her. She has inadvertantly given me my confidence back as a parents where these daycares made me doubt myself and worse, Evan.
Through all this Evan acted out at church too so the powers at be released me from my teaching calling to be Evans babysitter. I do not see the wisdom in this right now but am reminding myself to keep an open mind. One thing I love about it though is seeing how smart Evan is. I'm so proud of that guy! He's never slowed down from being a sponge for knowledge. Cora Grace could care less to learn anything but at the same time surprised me last week when we went to visit Fran from church who hadn't been to church for a month after a fall. She was disappointed to learn she missed the Primary program and missed hearing Evan's memorized part. Evan was suddenly/uncharacteristically shy so to test him I said "fine, I bet Cora knows your part and will tell Fran". And she did!!! "I can live with Heavenly Father again, if I pray." I was blown away and excited for more. Side note: Cora also asked if I would teach her to drive and I said yes but only after she learns her ABC's!! She is doing it!!! What a stinker but it shows with the right motivation, that girl can do anything! :) Anyway, there is no longer tears at drop off and they also do preschool. Did I mention she home schools her 3 kids and is verrry intelligent? I just really admire her. She watches many of my coworkers kids too and has my friend Callie on a wonderful healthy path for her family that I hope to stop procrastinating and becoming more like her too. So in a wrap up.. The kids are doing amazing. I'm so proud of both of them. Our family is getting closer everyday. We've seen the blessings from doing scripture study together and having family prayer. We've also seen the discord when we let life get in the way of those things. We like the blessings better!! :)
Mike has been so busy at work. Real Estate has been very good to us also. He has had to watch his healthy food and lifestyle choices to maintain good health and as a result lost a few pounds. I hope to be right behind him. I recently weighed myself at 193! I'm not OK with this and am making smart choices to combat this unhealthy weight gains. I hope to post pictures this week but couldn't figure it out from my tablet. More deep thoughts then...xo

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I am a child of God

Evan is in his room right now. He's supposed to have taken a nap but has been 'quiet' in his bed for the past two hours. I only threatened him twice through the door to lay down and be quiet. I was about to scold him a third time when I realized what I was hearing. He was hitting a balloon I'd blown up (normally he's scared of balloons) for he and Cora this morning. That is sweet becasue he's overcoming a fear and growing up. The other thing he was doing while throwing the balloon up and dancing around was singing his current favorite and what he calls "a Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful song", I Am a Child of God. I'm grateful for this sweet sweet baby. He heard me pause the show I was watching and stopped singing. He said................. "Mommy?..... I'm all alone in my room. Can I please come a cuddle with you for 100 minutes?" smile. Bless this boy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I am LUCKY. My Heart is full.

I don't have a picture to show you but I can create it with my journal. God has been so good to me and my family. This is the busiest time of my life. Before having children, even though I had the best time with my husband, I was bored... waiting for them to enter and 'excite' my life. Oh, they're doing that alright. :) They also excite others lives, in good and in challenging ways. ha ha ha. I do remember sitting and daydreaming on the couch before kids thinking, 'I will never do this when they are here, there will be no time.' Thankfully, I am sitting on the couch as I type this and the Lord has provided these times so I can document it for my family. He's also given all he's given for my learning and edification as a neighbor, woman, wife and mother. I had to stop blogging months ago because I needed to focus on my family more. It was a good vacation. I feel like for the first time in months, I'm seeing the sunshine through the clouds of not knowing what to do. Don't get me wrong, I have had such fun days with my family especially the kids but with the background noise of "i need to do more, i need to learn more, i need to be more", hanging over my head. I now realize I don't need to put so much pressure on myself and I'm not sure how I got there anyway because it's not like me.
Evan does not like to go to day care. He and Cora Grace only go 2 times a week but it's at the end of the week. I have come to some conclusion that this doesn't work well for him. I reluctantly put them in day care in the first place as I had always planned to be a stay at home mom. As reality showed me they would have to go, I resolved myself to see the positive in it and chose a daycare that also did some education as I saw my son so eager to learn anything you teach him. He was 2 1/2? when he started and already knew his alphabet, upper and lower case letters, home phone number and address. I hoped the teachers would see this and build on it as I had no clue what I should teach him - i was afraid of telling him too much so he wouldn't be bored in Kindergarten once he got there (I'm not worried about that anymore). I feel I was a lazy parent after that, assuming they would teach and cultivate his brain those academic things, instead, it was day care. He had fun doing crafts and getting read to etc but he was scratched and bitten every week for months, thankfully he wasn't bothered by this so we didn't demand action or anything. Academically his "report cards" didn't acknowledge the things I knew he already knew either. I brushed it off as they got him on an off day? Later when he moved to a new class, he experimented in the same behaviors shown him. "OH JOY!" Not only there but at Church as he began Sunbeams. It has been a lot of challenges with his behavior since then but through it he remains, smart as a whip, sweeter than nectar, great with Cora especially, loving to those who show him sincere love and interest and he's been very helpful with anything we ask. As a parent we see his energy, yes, but we see those sweet things so it's very confusing to hear the challenges he has had for the past year+ at day care and at church (running out of his classroom, tantrums, talking back). 6 or so months ago, he started having tantrums in various forms for the first time ever to express his dismay for something. We have been so confused! It is also frustrating to hear people judging him that don't know him and I'm afraid, my defence of him, made it worse because I was focused on correcting them, rather than showing Evan the love and attention he was crying out for. "I don't LIKE day care, I don't want to go there." and "I don't want to go to church or daycare". He started saying they were "dangerous", when I asked what that meant, he said they were "too loud", I've asked what that means and he says, "they are noisy". Well, he's right about that! lol. I've never been to a louder primary before but I couldn't believe it bothered him for real. I thought it was an excuse, as he's a very smart/wise kid, perceptive to his surroundings. Daycare, is 21 kids in class and his classroom is also the hallway for 2 other classes so there's lots of noise and even more distractions. Recently Evan received his first warning and they only get 3 before being expelled from the day care, 2 calendar weeks but only 4 days later, even though "he actually had a really great day today... till his teacher left for the day (at 5p)". By the time I came to pick him up that day at 6, he had a 2nd warning. UGH! He doesn't get it, doesn't understand the repercussions or his actions, doesn't know what it means that he could be kicked out of his school/daycare. THIS is the point that brought me and Mike to our humble knees. We just love this kid. We know his potential and we know that God sent him to us for us to be the ones to fight for him and encourage his potential. We are all created in His image so we know Mike and I can do more for Evan and we know, even at just 4 years old, Evan has more he can do for himself and more he can understand even at this age. A wise wise friend and fairy godmother recently expressed to me that Evan may be my, get on my knees child and I realized, I hadn't really been there. She was wise and the spirit knew he could use her to get through to my walled up heart where I shut everyones opinions out, to protect my innocent child. I got on my knees and am still there and there is already progress. I am seeing loving guidance from my Heavenly Father and I am remembering to thank Him for his hand in turning our heads. I feel very optimistic for Evans near future because I decided to trust my Heavenly Father - go figure. I just got caught up in the fluff of life and I'm mad about it so I'm now channeling that same energy to being proactive for Evan (and Cora Grace). So, if you see Evan and he's having a hard time, please, give him love, give him attention, don't analyse and dissect him just treat him as Christ would. Forgive me for being a sub-par parent and influencing some of his bad behaviors too. I'm working on myself in the process and it's a lifetime commitment.
I am grateful for a husband who loves and supports me and our family in whatever we need. He has been very busy with his professional life and church obligations yet he gives to our family freely and completely and sometimes I don't realise it as I should. I love you Michael. I just love that Evan, he takes my breath away. Mike and I STILL check on him after he's gone to sleep to marvel at him, that he's ours and that we even have a him to check on. Cora Grace is still a joy, she is INDEPENDENT and so loving and accommodating, a future mother already. Strangers and friends alike still comment on her cuteness and I hope she keeps that spirit forever. Even my puppy Smokey who's got to be 13 now? is the sweetest dog, letting the kids bother him, loyal still to me even though I abandoned him 4 + years ago for a brown eyed human baby :). What I'm "lucky" about is not really just my family but for the gospel and being able to communicate with a loving Heavenly Father when I feel dispare or when I am feeling carefree. I'm lucky He lies in wait to love and guide me when I'm ready to come to him or have forgotten to check in and guess what, he forgives me. I am lucky. I am lucky to have listened to his promptings and together with Mike, steered Evan in a more positive direction for the past two weeks and today at Sonic, waiting for our food got the unexpected exclamation from Evan, "Mommy.... I love you and Daddy." It's not unusual for him to say that to us but today, it felt like a trophy for loving him better than before and not giving up on him like others around him have. I love learning and look forward to what's next for me and my family members. It's refreshing to type again. I miss it, as has been said before, I hope I'll be back soon. xo Lila